Lalaith Elerrina--Child of the Stars - Chapter 56, part 2


Even before he saw her, Legolas felt the sweet peace of her presence, the dulcet, silent voice of her soul calling to his, and his heart caught upon a beat as he drew in a low breath, savoring the moment of anticipation before he turned at last.

********

part 2

From the first sweet realization that he loved her, Legolas had envisioned this moment, had pictured her beauty in his mind, imagined the surge of emotion that would claim him at the sight of her upon their wedding day. Yet nothing had prepared him for this consuming fire that raced wildly through his body as his eyes came to rest upon his bride where she stood poised upon the crest of the steps, her eyes trained with ardent tenderness upon him. Fierce and scorching it was, yet consummately sweet all at once.

"Ai," he breathed silently as all the world seemed to pause in that moment.

Lalaith stood with her ladies about her, but Legolas saw no others. The white gown that adorned her resplendent young body, seemed to bear a silver glow as if she were formed of starlight itself, descending like a goddess to earth from her place on high as she began to glide down the steps toward the garden. And so she was indeed; a daughter of Elbereth, the Star Kindler, and Manwë, Lord of the Heavens. She was a child of the stars, exalted, divine, and flawlessly glorious.

But she was a woman as well. A woman of warm, supple flesh, and of passionate secrets that played behind her eyes. Her fair cheeks were flushed with color; the rapid beat of her pulse was visible beneath the pale flesh of her throat, and her soft young breasts concealed by the silken swathe of her gown rose and fell with silent fervor as Legolas, feeling his feet responding of their own volition, moved slowly to the base of the steps, and waited for her as she came, her hand in Galadriel's though her eyes never left his own.

Lalaith trembled inwardly as she descended the steps. A warm weakness had seized her limbs the moment her eyes had lain sight upon him, and even now her gaze was ensnared, unable to leave the shining image of Legolas as he moved with captivating grace to the base of the steps, the firm strength of his youthful, muscled body undisguised by the exquisite robes that adorned him. How beautiful he was, she thought to herself, how fiercely, wildly, beautiful as his lips turned up in a timid, endearing smile even as his eyes, deep as the sea, devoured her unashamedly. His lean chest rose and fell all the more deeply the nearer she drew to him, until at last, she forced herself to stop two steps above him, remembering decorum and restrained.

Galadriel, her hand barely felt in Lalaith's trembling grip, squeezed her hand gently, and with a parting smile, let go, and drew back a pace.

"We are well met, valiant lady," Legolas murmured, a small smirk turning up the corners of his lips, his eyes plaintive as he lifted his hand with a short bow.

"Well met indeed my noble lord," she returned, feeling a quiver of a smile moving over her lips as she extended her hand, and slipped her fingers lightly into his proffered grip. Ai, the barest touch of him sent tongues of flame through her body!

Drawing in a deep breath of the cool, sweetly scented wind to bring thought again to her mind, she lighted down the last steps to the cool, dew wet grass, and smiled up into his eyes, bright with the lights of the stars gathered in them. Legolas did not speak, but he did not need to, for his eyes spoke volumes as he turned and with her beside him, started across the grass encircled about by the many tables, toward the Lord of Imladris, who, with misted eyes, came forward to claim the maiden's hands.

"Lalaith," Elrond's voice was soft and broken as he drew near and Legolas, with visible reluctance, surrendered his betrothed to him. Elrond caught her hand in his and held it briefly, cradling it like a cherished jewel, gazing down upon the maiden with tears hovering upon the rims of his eyes until, with a soft cry, Lalaith threw herself against his chest, and he gathered her close as his hand touched softly against the tresses of her hair before he drew back, and smiled down upon her.

"Legolas!" His mother's voice at his arm caused Legolas to turn his head as Aseaiel, her eyes moist with joyful pride, clasped hold of his arm. Swallowing at a sudden hardness in his throat, Legolas reached over and covered her hand where it looped through his own.

"Mother-," he sighed.

"How handsome you are," she observed softly, her eyes flashing teasingly as she glanced toward his betrothed. "And how beautiful your bride is. She glows as brightly as the stars."

"She does," he breathed as he studied his bride who was trading tender words with Elrond. Lalaith lifted a hand with gentle grace, and brushed a tear from the Elven Lord's cheek. The folds of her gown rippled like liquid starlight in the wind that moved softly through the glade, and Legolas smiled.

"She is like a living star, herself," he mused.

Aseaiel smirked at her son's expression. "She is, indeed. As are you, Legolas. How glad we are for you and Lalaith," she murmured, turning her head as Thranduil drew near, gazing upon his wife with youthful adoration. Aseaiel smiled, and left Legolas' side to greet her husband with a gentle smile.

"Indeed," Thranduil added to his wife's words, as he encircled an arm about her shoulders, and squeezed gently.

All about him, the betrothed men of Legolas' escort met their ladies with eager smiles, and furtive whispers, and more than one briefly stolen kiss. And Haldir and Celeborn greeted their wives with obvious eagerness, and anxious, youthful smiles. As for Gimli, he blushed like a shy child at Galadriel's cordial greetings, and took her hand to kiss it, bowing low before the lady, until his beard nearly brushed the grass at his feet. Gandalf greeted Lalaith with a merry smile, clasping her hands as his eyes twinkled. The Hobbits too, greeted Lalaith and the other ladies with much happiness, their excitement for the coming feast unconcealed upon their bright faces as Elrond, in a voice that quavered slightly, bid all to take their seats.

The Hobbits' merriment was infectious, and Legolas found himself grinning like a youth as he and Lalaith in a flurry of jollity, were both guided to carven chairs in the center of the head table, and bidden to sit. Galadriel who would speak for Lalaith in place of her mother, sat upon Lalaith's left hand, with Celeborn beside her. And Thranduil found his place upon Legolas' right hand, as Aseaiel seated herself beside her husband. In the midst of the flurry of activity as the guests seated themselves, Legolas contented himself with studying his bride beside him as Galadriel caught her hand and whispered something furtively in her ear like a conspiratorial maiden. Lalaith beamed merrily at her grandmother's secret words, and Legolas drew in a long, slow breath, marveling anew at how he had come to attain her. She was his friend, his trusted comrade, his cherished betrothed. And upon this night, she would become his wife. Their fëar would become one.

His breath caught upon the thought, and his heart raced ahead to the night that lay before them, when-,

Her head turned of a sudden, her eyes lifted and met his gaze, shining as if she somehow sensed his thoughts. And Legolas met her gaze with tender boldness, even as desire stirred hotly within him. He could think of no words to say, and so he simply smiled, and reached for her hand.

Lalaith could barely contain the wild pounding of her heart as Legolas studied her unashamedly, his gaze consuming her own as his lean warm fingers slid over her hand where it rested upon the tabletop. She turned her hand, letting his fingers weave through her own with eager familiarity and she could not but feel the stirring heat of anticipation as they shared this brief, intimate touch, surrounded by talk, and laughter. She wondered if he had noted the rising color in her cheeks, and hoped that he had. Allowed this one brief moment alone with him in the midst of their kin, she once again let her eyes wander over his strong, firm body; his smooth, fluid movements as he leaned slightly nearer her, the sturdy strength of his arms and chest beneath the shimmering folds of his cream white robe.

A quick smile touched the corner of his mouth as he noted her bold appraisal, and sensing he had guessed her thoughts, Lalaith ducked her head, feeling even more color darkening her face before she lifted her gaze once more to Legolas' face, rewarded with a timid smirk and warm, dark eyes.

"I have thought of nothing but you, all day," Legolas breathed as he brought her hand near his face and brushed his lips against her knuckles in a way that stirred her blood with sweet hope.

"Neither could I stop thinking of you-," Lalaith murmured gently, as she caressed his knuckles softly with her thumb. "I have wanted for nothing but this day to pass-,"

Her voice grew silent as Elrond's voice, firm and clear, though laced also with emotion, began to carry out over the clearing. And though they spoke no more, Legolas offered her a timid smile as hand in hand, the betrothed pair turned their eyes toward the Lord of Imladris.

"My friends, kinsfolk," Elrond called out warmly to the gathering where he stood at his place beside Celeborn's left hand, "Tonight we are merry, celebrating the first marriage in Imladris since the fall of the Dark Lord: The bonding of Lalaith, my child, my daughter-," he choked softly upon the word, "to the choice of her heart, Legolas Prince of Eryn Lasgalen."

Smiles were cast her way, and soft murmurs of approval whispered over the gathering before Elrond continued.

"Many of us here will one day sail into the West. Some few of us-," he cast a brief, plaintive glance toward Arwen and Aragorn further down the table, "will remain. Yet, my kinsfolk, my friends, I pray that the Valar will bless the paths that each of us will take, that we might have joy. And may we not forget hope also, and the mercy of the Valar, that those we love, will be returned again to us, on some distant day."

About the gathering, here and there, women who sat alone, without men beside them, swallowed softly, trading quiet glances before turning their eyes downward.

Legolas' hand tightened upon hers, and she shuddered softly, humbled at the warm blessing that was his very nearness. She turned and cast a brief glance at him, adoring his tender, timid grin that she so loved. After all the dangers they had passed through, after all the pain, the uncertainty, the danger, and the ache of waiting, she was here beside Legolas at last, upon their wedding day.

"There are many more words I might say," the Lord of Imladris continued quietly, and Lalaith turned again to gaze up at Elrond. She could see in his eyes, that his own thoughts were carried away upon some other distant vein.

"But-," Elrond drew in a sigh, rising from his somber mood and smiled down upon the betrothed pair. "I was once young and eager as these two are now. And-, I understand why they would wish my words to remain short."

Lalaith and Legolas said nothing to this, though they traded yet another glance, their faces flushing darkly as soft laughter rippled over the gathering. Elrond smiled at this, and looked away toward the shadows. At a brief movement of his hand, servants suddenly materialized from the cool shadows of the trees, coming along a number of paths down from the kitchens, with trays of steaming food held aloft. Several loud exclamations from the direction of the Hobbits, revealed Pippin's delight as well as Gimli's at the sight of the marvelous feast appearing from the out of the trees.

And even Lalaith's attention, for the moment, turned upon the platters of steaming venison, that servants carried forth, and placed on the tables before them, along with pitchers of sweet wine, trays of steamed vegetables and fresh fruits; breads of all varieties, freshly baked, with steam still wafting off the crisp brown crusts.

She helped herself to the platter of venison before her, spearing a generous slice to her plate, along with a fat bunch of juicy red grapes and thanked the servant who filled her wine goblet before she began to eat.

Glancing out of the corner of her eye, she noted Legolas' humored expression as he watched her in between his own bites of the venison and steamed vegetables he had gathered onto his plate. She swallowed a bite of savory meat, and allowed herself a small chuckle as she glanced at him.

"What is it, Legolas?" she queried. She turned to Galadriel to see if she had been humored by some joke that Lalaith had missed, but the Lady of the Golden Wood had turned intently away from the pair, caught up in lively conversation with her husband and son in law. Upon Legolas' other hand, Thranduil and Aseaiel focused their attentions upon each other, their foreheads nearly touching as they murmured softly over some conspiratorial secret.

"Nothing," Legolas chuckled merrily as she turned back to him, perplexed. "I merely-, I enjoy watching you." He surveyed her for a moment, a playful gleam in his eyes before he reached out, plucked a grape from off her plate, and offered it to her.

"Ai, Lalaith nin-," he breathed reverently as her lips parted and she accepted the fruit, chewing it as Legolas' fingers remained upon her lips, trailing lightly over her cheek, their eyes trading quiet secrets. "Never shall I tire of looking upon your beauty," he murmured as she turned, and plucked another grape, offering it to him with a pert smile.

She pressed the small fruit past his lips, quietly savoring the feel of his parting mouth, the warm moisture within, the feel of his tongue against her fingertip-,

She drew her finger back slowly, and drew in a deep breath as she ran her thumb over the finger Legolas had moistened. His eyes were deep and passionately intense. Yet they were gentle as well, as they had ever been, and he smiled as she sighed softly. Leaning conspiratorially toward her betrothed, her heart throbbing in her breast, she whispered, "I am glad of that, for neither shall I tire of gazing upon you, Legolas. Though all the ages pass."

To this, he grinned warmly, and brushed his thumb with sweet affection against her chin.

********

The feast was slowly wending to its close, the Hobbits, even, to Lalaith's surprise, were quite satisfied. Even Sam, with a sigh, leaned back away from his half eaten fruit tart, and sighed long, rubbing the round of his fully belly as he and the other three Hobbits down the table from her, traded light, joking words.

Gimli, leaning back in his chair in much the same attitude as the stout Hobbit, valiantly squelched behind his hand, what would otherwise have been a raucous belch, and it came out in a rather garbled burble. Lalaith smiled and glanced away as the Dwarf flushed behind his beard, and glanced about, hoping none had noticed.

She was feeling quite full herself, though not entirely finished with the berry pastry that lay upon a small platter between her and betrothed. She and Legolas had been playfully feeding fragments of the sweet confection to each other, hardly noticing as the flames of evening faded, and the evening sky slowly darkened above them.

"Here, here my love," Legolas offered laughing, and her attention turned back again to him as he gathered up the cloth from beside his plate, and dabbed at a spot of berry sauce upon the corner of her mouth. "It is a wonder we have not spilled all over our finery."

Lalaith obligingly held still for him, though she spoke as he wiped away the spot. "Yes, I fear you are right. And we cannot easily blame the pastry these last few minutes, as the feast has drawn to its close. But rather, our own childishness."

Legolas sighed softly at this as he finished his task and set the cloth aside. His gaze lifted and his countenance grew somber as he glanced about them, taking up her hand in his where it rested upon the tabletop.

"It is drawing to an end," he breathed as if struck with a thought new and wonderful to him. Glancing at their joined hands, he turned his eyes again to hers, his gaze warm and deep.

Lalaith's lips parted in a silent question as she turned and glanced about them. Lalaith blinked and drew in a quick sigh, for she had hardly paid heed to the passage of time. But the sun was gone, and twilight indeed, was almost upon them. The sweetly scented trees upon the edge of the glade were bathed now in shadow. Their branches wafted lazily in the lowering twilight above the flowering vines twined through the woven bower that was set half in shadow upon the edge of the light cast by glowing silver lamps swaying from wrought posts about the glade. Lalaith noticed them only now, doubtless brought in by servants as the sun faded beyond the horizon. And the western sky, once ablaze with red and yellow streaks of fire, was slowly fading. Eärendil would appear soon, as the flames of the sunset faded and cooled.

She glanced toward her betrothed, and saw quiet wonder upon his face, and warm adoration. His thoughts were as her own, and her flesh trembled warmly, answered by a reassuring squeeze of Legolas' hand.

"Legolas, Prince of Eryn Lasgalen."

Elrond's voice, strong and deep and even, echoed over the assemblage, and the quiet hum of talk about the tables ceased as the Lord of Imladris rose away from the table, and nodded with a somber gaze toward the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen.

Lalaith's heart gave a great thud in her chest, for these words marked the beginning of their wedding ceremony. Legolas too, felt the import of Elrond's words, and with a quickly drawn breath and a swift lift of his chin, gave her hand a final squeeze as he rose from the table and stood forth to face Elrond.

"My Lord, Elrond," he murmured softly, his head bowing toward the father of his bride. His face was somber, though his eyes danced with light.

"Why have you come here this day?" Elrond queried. His voice was gentle, low and measured now, in the customary somber tone of the ceremony.

Legolas drew in a long breath as he cast a fleeting, tender glance toward Lalaith who was yet seated.

"To bind myself to this lady, whom I have chosen," he returned with a soft smile toward his betrothed, and Elrond smiled as well, glancing toward Lalaith as he blinked back misted tears, gesturing to the vaulted bower, twined through with flowering vines.

"Then, if it is the will of your heart, take your place, and await the coming of your bride."

With a swift breath rising in his chest, Legolas did as he was bidden, striding with purposeful steps from the table toward the arch of the bower where the green vines and young flowers adorning the archway flickered upon the edge of the lamplight. With a steady stride he moved beneath it, turning once again to face Lalaith, his smile warming her heart as his eyes spoke sweet secrets to her across the space between them.

"Thranduil, King of Eryn Lasgalen," Elrond called again, and now Thranduil rose from his place beside his son's empty seat.

"My Lord, Elrond," he called out as he bowed his head toward the Lord of Imladris.

"Why have you come here, this day?" Elrond asked for the second time.

"To bless the union of my son and this lady, whom he has chosen," Thranduil returned with a grin and a wink of assurance toward Lalaith.

"Then, if it is your will, take your place, and await the coming of his bride."

In silence, Thranduil nodded, and strode with strong grace as his son had, toward the bower where his son waited, and took his place to the side of the flowering entrance.

"Galadriel, Lady of Lothlórien," Elrond's words were softened somewhat, and a boyish smile teased at the corners of his lips as his mother in law rose with flowing grace, and bowed toward him.

"My Lord, Elrond," she murmured softly, a grin of her own drawing up her mouth.

"Why have you come here, this day?" he asked her.

"To bless the union of my granddaughter and this lord, whom she has chosen," Galadriel returned glancing with tenderness first toward Lalaith, and then toward the bower where Legolas waited.

Elrond's lips trembled slightly before he composed himself again, and murmured softly, "Then, if it is your will, take your place, and await her coming."

Galadriel nodded to this, and glided away. Lalaith drew in a deep breath, and watched her go, her gown flowing softly like a silver river in the soft wind as she took her place outside the dome of the bower, opposite Thranduil.

Lalaith closed her eyes softly, drawing in a deep breath as she struggled to still the pounding of her heart.

"Lalaith-," Elrond called out, emotion catching within his voice, "Lady of-," he drew in a shuddering breath, "Valinor-, and of Imladris."

With these words, Lalaith drew open her eyes, and rose with a throbbing heart, from the table, and stepped away, bowing toward the dark haired Elf who struggled to rein his emotions as their eyes met.

"My Lord, Elrond," she offered softly.

Elrond was to ask now, the bride's purpose in coming, but he paused briefly, his eyes closed, his head bowed as he struggled to speak.

"Why have you come here this day?" he managed in a fierce, broken whisper.

"To bind myself to this lord, whom I have chosen," she returned in a soft whisper.

"Then," he choked softly, and lifted his head to gaze upon her, his eyes filled with warmth and pride, and such tenderness, that Lalaith's heart swelled within her as he whispered, "if it is the will of your heart-, go to him."

Lalaith's heart took flight at these words, and she turned her eyes from Elrond toward the archway of the bower, meeting Legolas' tenderly furtive gaze.

A warm smile turned up the edges of his mouth, and a breath swelled deep within his chest as her feet trod softly across the grass toward him, her heart alight with wordless song. The grass was cool against her feet, the scent of the flowering vines sweet in her nostrils. Galadriel's eyes, and Thranduil's as well, greeted her with joy as she drew passed them, and moved at last, beneath the twining arch into the soft scented shadow beneath the bower. She turned to face Legolas, her flesh aching at the warmth of his closeness, though she could not touch him now, not yet. Not yet.

He spoke not at all, but his chest rose and fell with deepened emotion as their gazes embraced across the space between them. His pulse beat steadily and swiftly beneath the warm flesh of his throat as their eyes strove together.

"Lord," Galadriel's gentle voice called to them from her place beside Lalaith. "You have come here this day, to bind yourself to my granddaughter."

"I have, lady," Legolas returned, though his eyes did not move from Lalaith's.

"Have you your gift for her?" she murmured gently, to which Legolas nodded, placing a hand upon the necklace where it rested upon his chest.

"I do." With quiet reverence, Legolas reached behind his neck, and undid the clasp that had bound the necklace there since Galadriel had given them the jeweled necklaces in the Golden Wood.

"Lady," Thranduil's gentle, fatherly voice spoke now, choking softly upon his own emotion. "You have come here this day, to bind yourself to my son."

"I have, lord," Lalaith murmured, her voice soft as she spoke past the emotion that trembled in her throat.

"Have you your gift for him?" he continued gently.

"I do." Lalaith answered, and did as Legolas had. She unbound the clasp of the medallion behind her hair, and drew it forward about her neck until its weight rested within her cupped palm, as the necklace Legolas held, lay sheltered in his own hand.

"Lord," Galadriel spoke again, her eyes fixed tenderly upon Legolas, "will you vow to love my granddaughter, to honor her, and protect her, to comfort her, and cleave to her and no other, as Varda's lord cleaves to her?"

"I will, lady. I swear it." Legolas answered. His eyes ever fixed with plaintive longing upon Lalaith danced with light as he spoke.

"Lady," Thranduil's warm, fatherly voice addressed Lalaith, and his eyes smiled gently upon her, "will you vow to love my son, to honor him, and protect him, to comfort him, and cleave to him and no other, as Manwë's lady cleaves to him?"

"I will, lord," Lalaith sighed, and a wave of tender longing washed over Legolas' countenance as she spoke. "I swear it."

Legolas gulped softly at these words as his hands lifted. The weight of the small twined jewels twisted upon the end of the chain as he leaned forward, and with a low sigh, reached about her slender neck. His fingers brushed meaningfully against the flesh of her throat, to which Lalaith shuddered deliciously. Legolas smiled at this as he clasped the chain beneath her hair, and then withdrew his hands as he stood back again.

"This gift I give to you, lady as a token that I bind myself to you as your husband, and that the vows I make this day, I will keep."

Legolas said these words in the measured tone as was the custom of the ceremony, yet as he spoke, his eyes delved deep into her own. His gentle gaze fairly pulsed with promise, giving silent meaning to the somber words.

"Do you accept my pledge, lady?" he queried, and his voice was a warm caress.

"I accept it, lord, with joy." Her words were a soft sigh upon her lips. She smiled slightly, and Legolas' eyes sparked with eager fire.

A soft wind washed over the silent glade, over the still faces that looked on, bright with joy as Lalaith, her eyes striving fervently with Legolas' leaned slowly forward, and lifting the chain of the medallion, slipped it over his firm shoulders, and around his neck, purposely brushing her fingers against the warm flesh of his throat as he had done with her. She felt his pulse quicken at her touch. Legolas smirked fleetingly, and Lalaith did as well, biting her lip as she joined the clasps together, the cool weight of his hair brushing over her fingers. Slowly with a soft sigh, she began to withdraw her hands, though she could not help but let her fingers slide for a fractioned moment over the smooth cloth of his robe. Legolas drew in a swift breath at this. She could feel his flesh quiver at her touch as she drew her hands again to herself, fixing her eyes upon the jeweled medallion that rested upon the cream white cloth that concealed his firm chest.

"This gift I give to you, lord," she breathed in a soft voice, steady in spite of the wild pounding of her heart, "as a token that I bind myself to you as your wife, and that the vows I make this day, I will keep."

Sweet and heady emotions roiled within her now as her eyes lifted and met his own. Her heart nearly stopped at the love and the achingly tender longing she could see in his eyes.

"Do you accept my pledge, lord?" she whispered.

"I accept it, lady," Legolas breathed, his voice washing in tender waves through her soul as he finished warmly, "with joy."

Lalaith sighed raggedly at these words, the tender weight of his softly spoken words quavering through her heart like the gentle strains of a hymn. Her lips parted softly as she studied the way Legolas drew in a low breath, his eyes caressing her tenderly, though he could not yet touch her. A soft movement came to their ears, but they did not glance away one from each other as Galadriel moved forward and caught Lalaith's hand in her own, and Thranduil drew forth as well to take up his son's hand. Together, they lifted the hands of the pair, until they were level to each other, no more than a breath of air between their trembling fingers.

"As Varda is your witness," Galadriel breathed reverently.

"And as Manwë is your witness," Thranduil solemnly added.

"And as Eru, the Father of us all stands in witness," they both spoke in soft unison, "we join your hands, for you are now one."

A soft gasp caught in Lalaith's throat at the warm touch of Legolas' fingers as Galadriel placed her hand within the trembling gasp of her beloved. A rush of emotion swelled in her heart, a sense of sweet completeness as she gazed up into his suddenly tearful eyes, their fingers weaving eagerly, tightly together.

Beyond the bower beneath which they stood, the glade erupted in joyous cheers, the somber air of the ceremony now completed. But the wedded pair stood hand in hand, motionless but for the quiet trembling of their bodies as they gazed upon one another, overcome.

"Come on, lad!" Gimli shouted jovially from somewhere amidst the laughter and applause of the Hobbits. "Kiss `er!"

Lalaith felt herself flushing at this, and laughed softly, as did Legolas, his eyes glowing all the more ardently upon her.

Solemn excitement trembled along her limbs as Legolas softly smiled then, questioning her with boyish pleading in his eyes, and with endearing timidity, slowly bent his head toward her own. Lalaith sighed, and tilted her face upward. For the briefest moment, Legolas paused, hovering a fraction above her, their breath mingling before slowly, slowly, he closed the space between them, and brushed his mouth tenderly across her parted lips. A kiss so soft and innocent it was, that it caught her breath away from her, and she trembled as his fingers tightened all the more about her own, and pulled her subtly nearer as his free hand lifted and brushed softly against her throat. His fingertips, soft like the wing of a bird, slid over her jaw until his palm cupped her cheek as his lips continued tasting her with tentative hunger, his body trembling against her own.

Lalaith shivered in pleasure as well as she reached timidly forward with her own free hand, and slid it slowly beneath the soft weight of Legolas' robe, her fingers resting now upon the fabric of his tunic, against the firm warmth of his lean torso. To this, Legolas moaned softly against her mouth and shuddering, drew back. His eyes found hers, his gaze warm and dark, and he smiled softly.

"Lalaith nin," he breathed, his brow coming to rest against her own as his thumb brushed tenderly over her cheekbone. "I-," he swallowed. "I love you, my-, wife-,"

The simple word, softly spoken in a voice of breathless wonder, caused a song of joy to trill through her heart, already bursting with gladness.

"And I love you, Legolas. My husband," she sighed, thrilling at the light that washed over his countenance as she spoke the word.

"Lalaith," a woman's voice from beside them caused her to start a little, having forgotten all else about them, and she and Legolas both turned toward Galadriel and Thranduil who, with beaming countenances and soft laughter, moved forward to embraced their children.

Lalaith smiled tearfully into Galadriel's eyes as her grandmother caught her against herself, and kissed her cheek amidst tears.

"How happy I am, for you," Galadriel whispered against her hair. "May the blessings of the Valar rest upon you, always."

Galadriel drew back smiling to turn and greet the bridegroom, and Thranduil, having embraced his son, turned to Lalaith as well, his strong arms catching her close. "I am proud to have you now as my daughter," he murmured, his voice choked. "Legolas has chosen well. May the grace of the Valar be with you both."

Lalaith murmured her soft thanks, choked by emotion as the others of her kin now came forward to offer their blessings. And taking this as the signal to begin, music, sprightly and merry, sprang up from a band of musicians hidden in a corner of the glade shaded now in the cool shadows of night, and all around the glade, couples were joining hand in hand, and mingling upon the grass in the center.

Legolas tightened his hand upon Lalaith's and glanced down at her with a meaningful smile as with his hand in her own, he drew her at last out of the bower, into the cool of the night air, scented now, with the sweet tang of coming rain. The sky though, was clear and bright but for a roll of dark clouds to the north, the sunset long faded to a faint blue ember where Eärendil hung aloft, a shining spark of silver within the fading western sky above the bower where they had been wed. Legolas' hands tightened gently as they clasped her own. Lalaith smiled at the tender, playful light shining in the eyes of her beloved, and her blood stirred hotly within her.

"Welcome, kinsman!" Elrohir's merry voice, broke through the stillness between them, as Elrond's second born strode forward, Calassë beaming and content, upon his arm. Lalaith smiled upon their dear countenances, which shone with bright gladness, Elrohir's eyes bright with more than a little wetness.

The next few moments were a joyful blur to Lalaith as Calassë and Elrohir embraced the wedded pair, each offering their blessings, and Elladan with Miriel beside him, and Arwen with Aragorn as well as Glorfindel and Ithilwen, and Haldir with Lothriel upon his arm, much laughter and happy tears as well, mingled with each of their greetings, and their blessings. And Gandalf came as well behind Gimli and the Hobbits, holding back patiently, a gleam in his eyes as Lalaith stooped down to embrace Pippin and Merry together, then Frodo, and last of all, Sam, his little honest face already damp with tears.

"Here now," she offered softly, brushing a hand against his round cheeks, and guessing at the reason for his tears. "You'll see Rosie soon enough. She'll be waiting."

"Will she?" Sam asked with a suddenly hopeful look, to which Lalaith leaned forward, and kissed his small tawny head, drinking in the warm, earthy Hobbit scent of him.

"I do not doubt it," she whispered softly, and drew back, to see his brave grin and his eyes, hopeful now, as he gulped back tears and stepped away, joining the other Hobbits as Lalaith rose.

Gimli stepped forward then, coming to a solid halt between the bride and groom, dabbing a finger in the corner of his eyes, and clearing his throat gruffly.

Legolas warmly began, "Gimli-,"

"A bit of dust," he grumbled softly. "A bit of dust. That's all."

Lalaith glanced toward Legolas, and traded a warm grin with her new husband over the Dwarf's head before with a great harrumph, Gimli hugged Lalaith of a sudden, tightly about her middle.

"Bless you, lassie," Gimli grumbled before releasing her, and lurching toward Legolas, giving him a similar embrace as he thumped the Elf enthusiastically upon the back. "Bless you, lad," he added before stumbling back, still dabbing at his eyes, and clearing his throat vehemently. "It's good to see you both-," he choked roughly, "so happy as this."

"Thank you, Gimli," Lalaith offered softly, trading a softened look of tender understanding with Legolas.

"Augh," he offered, waving his hand dismissively, and sniffing fiercely, eyeing the two of them through eyes that were decidedly wet before he grumbled and stumped off, after the Hobbits. Gandalf at last came forward now, reaching for her hands, and catching them in his warm, gnarled grip.

"Mir o Imladris," he greeted her gently, as he pulled her close in a warm embrace before drawing back, and addressing both her and Legolas, a gentle smile upon his wizened face. "After all that we have passed through together, now a season of joy has come for you, together. Use well the days. And may the Valar bless you, always."

"Thank you," they both murmured in soft unison as the wizard clasped both their hands and offered a soft squeeze before retreating after the Hobbits.

Aseaiel came forward now, catching Lalaith to her first, and weeping merry tears upon the shoulder of her son's new bride.

"You complete our son," Aseaiel whispered in her ear before they parted. "As he completes you. May the Grace of the Valar rest upon your union, forever."

Drawing back, Aseaiel pressed a gentle kiss to Lalaith's cheek, then turned to her son, repeating her blessing to him as well. And as she stepped away to Thranduil's side who had come forward to meet his wife and guide her to the dancing, Lalaith turned away to see Celeborn drawing near. His face was as fraught with emotion as Elrond's was, where the Lord of Imladris stood back with misted eyes, waiting until the end.

"Lalaith," Celeborn offered quietly, gathering her close to him, and pressing a kiss gently to her hair. He was shaking softly with repressed tears as he softly breathed, "I am happy for your joy. May the Valar bless you, always."

He drew back then, and with his arm yet about Lalaith's shoulders, clapped his free hand upon Legolas' shoulder, and gazed upon the Elven Prince with a gentle, admonishing eye. "I feel naught but joy, to call you kinsman now. Lalaith has chosen well."

Legolas grinned warmly to this, and Celeborn managed a small smile also, though his eyes remained somber, and his hand did not yet leave Legolas' arm. "May your doom be other than mine," he continued in a low voice, a hint of somber sadness beneath it, "and your treasure remain with you to the end."

With that, he managed a brief grin, and turned away, his gaze seeking out Galadriel who stood near with her hands clasped before her as a maiden awaiting her lover, with a small, girlish smile upon her lips. To this, Celeborn sighed, and visibly cheered as he joined his wife, and hand in hand, went to join in the dancing.

"What did he mean-," Legolas queried, his hand slipping across Lalaith's back as the Lord of the Galadhrim moved away toward his lady.

"I-," Lalaith returned, her voice fading with a shake of her head, for his words had perplexed her as well. But she did not dwell long on them, for now, Elrond, the last of all, came forward, his eyes wet, though a smile was upon his face.

"May I have the honor of this first dance, my daughter?" Elrond asked, offering her a slight bow, and his hand.

"Of course, Ada," Lalaith returned warmly, and Elrond smiled. She slipped her hand into his and offered a quick glance to Legolas who grinned and stepped slightly back, giving his new father in law leave to escort his bride toward the center of the glade where they joined in the dancing among the bright colors and merry laughter of the others, where even the Hobbits had been taken into the dancing, having formed a merry ring with a group of Elflings on the far side of the glade.

"Lalaith," Elrond whispered, amidst the merry lilting tune. "Would that your mother Celebrian could see your wedding-," he choked softly. "Though-," he paused, the brief pause weighted with meaning before he spoke again, "she will see you, again." At this, he glanced toward Legolas who stood on the edge of the light, watching them with a slim smile upon his face. "And she will be pleased with your choice, as I am. And as are your exalted mother and father who brought your forth, and gifted you to us."

Lalaith turned as she danced in Elrond's arms and glanced toward her new husband, seeing the light in Legolas' gaze as their eyes fleetingly met. "It was their will that Legolas and I find each other."

"It was," Elrond returned, his voice weighted with warmth as the merry lilting notes of the song trilled to an end, and the couples about them parted with bright laughter, and much applause.

Elrond and Lalaith parted as well, her hand still resting within her father's as he gazed down upon her, wetness in his eyes. With a sigh, he bent toward her, and pressed a tender kiss to her brow as he drew back, releasing her hand.

"Go," he murmured, "and be happy."

Beyond the lights of the flickering lamps, a song plaintive and slow, a single flute and a harp blending with tender emotion, flowed across the glade like a gentle breeze. And in that moment, a warmth behind her, a heated stirring of her blood, whispered of his presence, and a soft breath caught in her lungs just as a gentle voice spoke from behind.

"May I have the honor of this dance, my lady wife?"

Lalaith drew in a shuddering breath and turned to face Legolas who stood before her, smiling upon her with tender reverence, his hand outstretched, his eyes quietly pleading.

How beautiful he was, she realized with renewed wonder. His face, both youthful and wise, smiled softly upon her. And his hair, long and golden, fell over his strong shoulders, resting upon his firm chest as it rose and fell slowly.

"The honor would be mine, my lord husband," she breathed in the sudden quiet, hardly noticing as Elrond moved away toward the edge of the glade, looking on with mist in his eyes.

She slipped her hand into Legolas' warm grip, feeling the familiar shuddering warmth that raced through her body as their flesh again made contact.

Legolas smiled tenderly at this, and with gentle grace, drew her to him, one arm circling her waist and drawing her closer as her own arm rested upon his firm shoulder.

Many were the gentle smiles cast their way from amongst the other dancers as the wedded pair swayed slowly together upon the edge of the lamplight, lost in the sweetness of the music, and in each other.

Lalaith, absorbed in Legolas' gaze, was vaguely aware as the gentle, plaintive notes quavered on, that her husband was slowly leading her away beyond the edge of the lamplight toward one of the shadowed paths that twined up away through the trees. His hand about her waist trembled a little as he clutched her more closely against himself, and Lalaith's heart began to throb within her as the shadows of the night closed about them and the strains of the music ended in the sighing whisper of a flute.

"Lalaith," Legolas breathed in the reverent silence that followed, drawing his hand from about her waist at last, though their woven fingers did not part. "Will you-, come with me?"

A distant rumble of thunder echoed across the valley from the north, the slow rumble of rain clouds closing over the valley in a rush of sweetly scented wind.

"I will," she hissed, a swell of trust, mingled with tender desire rising in her heart. And to this, Legolas smiled, and led her swiftly into the shadows of the twining trail, away from the lights and the music, and the gentle, understanding eyes that glanced away as the wedded pair disappeared, pretending not to have seen their hurried departure.

Elrond sighed softly, his eyes following the flight of his youngest daughter and her new husband as they disappeared into the darkness, though he glanced to his side as Gimli came trundling near, still dabbling at the corner of his eye.

"Hullo, m'lord," the Dwarf grumbled softly.

"Are you well, Gimli, son of Gloin?" he queried gently as the Dwarf thumped to a halt beside him.

"Aye, I am," Gimli muttered softly. "Cursed dust." And Elrond offered a grin, clapping the Dwarf gently upon the shoulder.

Up the wending trail through the starlight, the newly wedded pair hurried along, Lalaith clutching trustingly to Legolas' hand as she wondered silently where he was taking her. The lights of the Last Homely House were falling behind and below her. She knew, vaguely, where she was, and wondered at it. For there was nothing up here, but-,

"Legolas!" she gasped of a sudden, realizing at last, their destination as the trail turned sharply against the cliffside, and a high set of steps, carved into the mountain's face rose before them. She lifted her eyes, noting at last, a faint glow from a window high upon the ledge of the cliff.

Legolas turned to her, smiling gently. "Come," he offered softly, and with his hand in hers, began up the steps, the lights of Imladris falling beneath them as they climbed.

"The cottage!" she drew in a shuddering breath as tears touched her eyes. "The rooms that Elrond and Celebrian shared before she sailed for Valinor!"

"Are you surprised?" he queried, smiling over his shoulder as the fluted pillars of marched past them.

"I am," she confessed with a soft laugh. "Most pleasantly so."

"I spoke to Elrond of this cottage, the day we returned," he admitted, a grin in his voice. "He was very pleased to aide me in my plan, and all who could be spared, have been glad to help in making it comfortable for us."

"And you helped as well," she surmised.

Legolas glanced back at her, and smiled before sighing and ducking his head. He smirked shyly. "When I knew you would not suspect. The ladies teased me, but in truth, I did not mind-,"

Lalaith swallowed at a gentle lump forming in her throat as she thought of the gossamer veil Galadriel, Lothriel and Aseaiel had been hurrying to finish but a few hours earlier.

"It has sat largely abandoned, for so many centuries," she whispered softly. "Though on occasion, it has been my sanctuary."

"I remember," he returned softly. "You brought me here once, long ago, and read to me as I lay with my head in your lap. Do you remember?"

Lalaith smiled in the darkness. "How could it forget? It was the day you found me racing through Imladris in my night dress after the twins, when Elrohir put frogs in my bed. I remember I was so mortified that you saw me in such a state-,"

"You needn't have been," Legolas returned gently. "For you were beautiful, Lalaith."

Lalaith blushed and ducked her head as Legolas' hand tightened about hers.

"That night was the Mid-Spring festival," she reminisced, "where we danced until the latest hours."

She sighed, and he turned to her as the steps ended now, before the arching doorway, the soft, rain scented wind washing about them as they paused beneath the flickering light that filtered out upon them.

"It was that night when you fell asleep beside me, that I realized I loved you. That my heart was yours, and in truth, had been so, for centuries."

"Ai, Legolas," Lalaith murmured softly. "If only I had not-,"

"Shh, Lalaith," he breathed tenderly, brushing a warm, soft finger tenderly across her lips. "We are wed now, and all is well."

She smiled into his gentle, adoring eyes. Ai, how she loved him!

"Come," he breathed softly. "I wish for you to see this."

Slowly, with a solemn, though joyful air, Legolas pushed the door open, and with a tender, hopeful look, tightened his hold upon Lalaith's hand, and guided her across the threshold into the warmth of a chamber bathed in soft silver shadows.

The walls, once coated in years of dust, had been scrubbed clean. The stone floor had been swept free of the scattered and dead leaves that had once littered it, and scrubbed until it shone. Even the arching joists of the ceiling had been polished, and glimmered like new. It was as it had been when she was a child, when Celebrian dwelt here, and shared these chambers with her doting lord, Elrond.

In the small sitting room where Lalaith found herself, a small table had been placed upon a woven rug, and set with two chairs. A wooden bowl of fresh fruit; apples, pears and fat red grapes, sat in the center of the table. And all about the chamber, the soft glow of candles set in polished sconces lit everything in soft, silver shadows.

With shining eyes, Legolas guided her forward then paused briefly, dropping his hand from hers, watching her as she stepped further into the room. Lalaith's eyes were large as she gazed about, her soft breath arrested in her throat. The small sitting room, as she remembered, rose up a set of steps to her left through a wide archway and into the spacious bedchamber where near to her beside the wall, sat two trunks, filled, she guessed, with clothing and other necessities they might require over the several days they were to spend here. Newly woven curtains of thick, dark blue linen hung before smaller arching doorways that led to other chambers of the small dwelling. And further away, across the shining polished stone of the floor, the balcony, once framed by tattered and ragged curtains, was veiled by soft swathes of shimmering gossamer that flickered lightly in the night wind stirring beyond the arching pillars.

Her eyes, trailing over the candlelit room, came at last to rest upon the bed, set upon its dais in the center of the room. The carven wood of the frame, once dull and neglected, had been polished to a warm, gleaming brown, and newly woven veils hung shimmering like swathes of cloud, from the high banisters.

Her heart leapt a little as behind her, the door fell shut with a soft click of the latch. She felt Legolas' warm, adoring eyes upon her, though she did not yet turn to him.

Treading slowly, she stepped up the low stair from the sitting room through the wide archway, and made her way across the candlelit stillness toward the dais where the bed sat, mounting the steps until she stood before the bed, her wedding bed, enshrouded in soft veils of gossamer. Reaching out a hand, she caught the edge of one of the veils and reverently drew it aside, her eyes traveling along the length of the bed. The wide mattress appeared delightfully soft, covered over by clean white linens while plump, feather stuffed pillows adorned the headboard, carven to imitate woven vines. The silken coverlet drawn smoothly over all, was soft as she brushed her fingers lightly against it. Newly woven she surmised, for this very night-,

She felt him coming behind her before she heard his soft tread, and she sighed softly at the caress of his warm hands as they came to rest upon her shoulders. Legolas' fingers smoothed the hair away from her neck, lightly trailing over her throat and cheeks, and she felt herself growing warm and weak as she closed her eyes and turned into his caress, nuzzling her lips tenderly against his fingertips.

"Is all arranged to your liking, my beloved?" Legolas whispered softly, the plaintive warmth of his voice brushing across the flesh of her neck as he bent to kiss her throat. His lips were soft, his breath warm, and her very flesh trembled as his mouth trailed softly down to her shoulder.

"Mmm," she moaned softly in answer, and he sighed in contentment as he drew back, laying a soft, delicate kiss against the peaked tip of her ear.

"I am glad of that," he murmured. "For I wish to delight you."

Through the soft, candlelit darkness, Lalaith turned slowly to him and lifted her gaze to his. Silently, she studied the warm depths in his eyes, a timid smile tugging at the edges of his lips. How fiercely, achingly beautiful he was, she marveled again to herself as trails of sunlight shivered along her flesh. And now, nothing stood between them, for they belonged to each other.

Slowly, with an endearing meekness in his gaze that stirred her blood, Legolas lifted a hand and reached out, touching his fingertips against her cheek.

"I love you-," he breathed, his voice quavering with warmth. "My laughter-, my reason for joy-,"

"And I love you," she whispered into the warm space between them as she lifted her hands, and trailed her fingertips lightly over the firm sinews of his neck where she could feel the wild throbbing of his pulse as his taut, muscled chest rose and fell with swift emotion. "My fair green leaf of Eryn Lasgalen-,"

Her words fell into silence as her hands slipped down his chest, over the soft cloth of his tunic, and slid beneath the soft weight of the robe that hung about his shoulders. His eyes grew dark, his smile quavered, and a quick breath swelled in his chest as Lalaith slowly pushed the cloak over his shoulders, revealing the cream white tunic beneath, thinly disguising the taut muscles of his chest and his shoulders, until, with a soft rustle of cloth, the cloak fell away, tumbling to the floor about his boots.

Legolas sighed aloud at this, and a warm weakness encompassed her as he stepped nearer, his warm hands finding her waist. His breath was soft against her face, his hands warm through the cloth of her wedding gown.

His eyes sought hers through the silver darkness, his shadowed eyes sparking with warm fire.

"Lalaith nin!" Legolas' words were a soft moan in the warm silence between them as his arms slid suddenly about her and crushed her soft body against the solid heat of his own, eliciting a cry of eager delight from her lips.

A moment of shared wonder passed between them where the soft shadows seemed to shimmer with joyful expectancy before Legolas dipped his head, and the pliant warmth of his lips captured her open, eager mouth. Each of them trembled at the unfettered passion that coursed through them as Lalaith slid her slender arms over his firm shoulders, tangling her fingers into the cool tresses of his hair, returning the swiftly deepening caresses of his sweet mouth with ever growing rapture.

She did not hear the first faint spatterings of rain upon the stones of the balcony beyond the wavering veils of their chamber. Nor did she heed the fluttering of the silver gossamer curtains as a gentle spring storm carried upon a cool night wind scented softly with rain rolled slowly across the valley, sheets of rain spilling now from the sky in a warm deluge.

For Lalaith's mind was lost to all else but Legolas; the urgent yet tender power of his embrace, the gentle strength of his warm hands caressing her tenderly-, And his kisses, falling soft as starlight upon her flesh as his fragrant shadow fell over her, and the warm cloud of their wedding bed enveloped them.

********

Dawn was but a vague breath of grey light upon the eastern ridges of the high mountains, their warm violet shadows cut cleanly against the night sky as the hush of the falls surrounding Imladris continued on in a soft whisper. A gentle spring breeze danced upon the freshened air, wafting through the star bathed vale of Imladris. Young leaves and tender pink buds that graced the boughs of trees washed by the rain's caress, fluttered softly at its gentle passing. Through the quiet halls and airy chambers of the great Elven House it dipped and twirled, fluttering curtains, and catching lightly at the low flames of the few lamps that burned.

Out the wide window and over the valley it floated before it met the high cliff face and mounted upward, catching at the silvered foam of the falls that poured eternally about the sheltered valley. Aloft it swirled, until it dipped across the rainwashed stone balustrade of a small, star bathed cottage set high upon a sheltered ledge of the cliff.

Curtains of transparent gossamer bordered the edge of the terrace, fluttering softly as the breeze filtered through, gently stirring the air of the warm, shaded chamber within. The soft flames of candles glowed mutely within the tranquil shadows, and fluttered slightly at the passing of the soft breeze as it brushed the silvery veils that hung in glittering swathes from the banisters about the wide bed set upon a dais in the center of the shaded chamber.

Within the swathe of the fluttering veils, half concealed beneath the tousled folds of a silken coverlet, lay two figures tenderly entwined, as a pair of slender young vines woven one about the other. Lost within the realm of their dreams they slept in each other's arms, blissfully unaware of the soft wind that faded at last with a gentle sigh into the reverent quiet of the still air beyond the gossamer curtains that sheltered them. For theirs was the wearied but contented slumber of lovers who had found at last, the sweet fulfillment of their deepest longings, and whose devotion to each other was as eternal as the stars.

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